If you can get anything your heart desires overnight from Amazon, why go shopping? The retail experience now needs a little extra to incentivize customers. With in-house cafes, curated fashion collections, art galleries, auto shops, and a distinct atmosphere, concept stores are building all-encompassing spaces to shape an experience, much more immersive than hitting the purchase button on your laptop.
Concept stores go beyond the generic department-store-with-Starbucks-counter model to showcase personality and provide extra amenities. Some say 10 Corso Como originated the model, just outside Milan’s city center. Colette, a high-fashion concept shop in Paris, popularized the all-in-one style with an exhibition space, bookshop, and “water bar”—though it closed in 2017. Likewise, Opening Ceremony, a fashion-centric concept store, set the bar for immersive retail experiences before closing up its stores in 2020.
As retail shifts become more stable in the post-pandemic world, it seems that the concept stores that made it through are continuing to be as inventive and all-encompassing even as ever. Even furniture design brands are diversifying collections to offer more sensorial brand experiences (especially through scent—ask anyone who went to 3daysofdesign, Copenhagen’s annual design festival, this year. &Tradition’s Mnemonic range of scents was my personal favorite).
These 23 high-design concept stores prove that shopping is an experience, not just an act, with beautiful spaces that go far beyond the expected to create a personality and atmosphere around a brand.
1. 10 Corso Como, Milan
Gallerist and magazine editor Carla Sozzani founded 10 Corso Como as an exhibition space and bookstore in 1990. Over the years, Carla has expanded the business to incorporate a fashion boutique, cafe, three room hotel, and roof garden. Corso Como has transformed into a bustling pedestrian promenade full of trendy shopping spots following 10 Corso Como’s lead.
Meanwhile, 10 Corso Como itself has become a global destination for fashion, design, and art enthusiasts thanks to its highly curated selection of high-end brands, limited edition items, and art exhibitions. Its fusion of different disciplines and commitment to creativity and innovation make 10 Corso Como a must-visit in Milan. It’s only right that the landmark concept shop that carved the way for other hybrid retail spaces around the world also kicks off our list.
2. Coming Soon, NY
Located in New York City, Coming Soon defies conventional categorization with its eclectic and whimsical approach to retail and interior design. Co-founded by Fabiana Faria and Helena Barquet, it offers an ever-evolving collection of playful products that range from furniture and home decor to fashion and accessories. The store’s selection showcases emerging designers and unconventional aesthetics, inviting customers to discover unexpected treasures. Coming Soon New York’s commitment to celebrating individuality, embracing creativity, and creating a vibrant and engaging shopping experience sets it apart as a destination for those seeking one-of-a-kind finds.
3. Gentle Monster
Korean brand Gentle Monster is known for eyewear, sure—but its retail spaces are notable, too. Locations from Seoul to Los Angeles are immersive art installations that transport visitors to imaginative and surreal worlds. Each space is meticulously crafted with architectural features, unconventional displays, and theatrical elements that blur the line between art and commerce. The latest US store in Houston greets visitors with a futuristic probe and a Giant Head kinetic installation. The metal structure unfolds inside the store as the installations and intense color shape a wildly uncanny experience—and surely a memorable one.
On the site of a former locksmith, VooStore is a minimalist, industrial space in the heart of Berlin Kreuzberg. Driven by the newest and most cutting-edge in fashion, design, and culture, VooStore is an exploration of modern design and visual culture, hosting fashion, art, music, and lifestyle designs by independent and avant-garde creatives pushing boundaries of their industries. The store hopes that the objects it sells become treasured possessions and stand up to time, whether they are part of the standing collection or seasonal presentations. The store hosts numerous exhibitions and cultural events, and an in-house deli offers specialty coffee, baked goods, and snacks.
5. Dover Street Parfums Market
Dover Street Market is one of the early concept stores that defined the concept store, combination department-store-and-exhibition space model. The original market, created by Comme des Garcons founder Rei Kawakubo and her husband Adrian Joffe, is in London, based largely on the old fashion hub Kensington Market. The market sprouted locations in New York, Tokyo, Singapore, Beijing, and Los Angeles, as well as the Dover Street Parfums Market in Paris.
The Parfums Market showcases perfumes, cosmetics, and makeup brands from around the world in a display made of a forest of pillars with carved out shelves. The stripped back shop forms a distinguished setting for a collection of avant-garde young labels and ubiquitous luxury brands, including Comme des Garcons, with a focus on diversity and inclusivity in beauty.
6. The Webster
The Webster is known for its unparalleled curation of high-end fashion and luxury goods. With designer clothing, accessories, and lifestyle products, the store offers a dynamic and fashion-forward shopping experience and has a knack for predicting trends. Although all of its locations across the country (and one in Toronto) reflect the spirit of its surroundings, the Los Angeles store, designed by David Adjaye in 2020 is a favorite. The building reflects the Brutalism of its home, the Beverly Center, but with a fashionable twist: the design is done in pink concrete to be tough and gentle at the same time.
7. two : minds
Jesse Dong and Robert Rosenthal founded two : minds to create a new, home-like retail experience offering luxury, street, heritage, and emerging fashion. Upset by retail closures during Covid-19, Jesse and Robert wanted to create a new, home-like retail experience revolving around their shared love for fashion and community. Discovery and personal confidence are the end-game: Jesse, Robert, and the two : minds team search the world over for the best emerging talent and heritage brands to reflect the evolving state of fashion, so that all shoppers find something inspiring that boosts their personal comfort and confidence.
8. Couverture and the Garbstore
Couverture & The Garbstore sets itself apart from other concept stores through a distinctive range of independent and emerging brands, showcasing unique and artisanal craftsmanship. A focus on storytelling creates an especially immersive shopping experience. Couverture & The Garbstore prioritizes quality, sustainability, and authenticity, offering a platform for small-scale designers and artists to showcase their work. Their commitment to fostering creativity, supporting independent makers, and providing a warm and welcoming atmosphere distinguishes them as a concept store that celebrates individuality and craftsmanship.
9. Anya Hindmarch, The Village
Luxury fashion designer Anya Hindmarch doesn’t just have a concept shop, but a whole concept village. The Village features a series of continually evolving interconnected stores and spaces, including a café, a florist, interactive installations at the World’s Smallest Department Store, and more shops. With each space, The Village offers a way to engage with Anya’s passions, from sustainability to labeling and organization, and encourages visitors to explore and interact with the brand in a dynamic and memorable way.
10. Gucci Wooster
In the heart of SoHo, Gucci at 63 Wooster Street redefines the traditional luxury shopping experience with the latest in art, fashion, and technology. Its interactive and visually captivating environment contains exclusive collections, limited edition items, and collaborations, for the fashion-centric crowd. The store’s architectural design, with exposed brick walls and original wooden beams, honors its 155 year history in the neighborhood. Digital elements, such as a screening room with 3D screen technology, headphones, and armchairs in turmeric velvet as well as augmented reality for customization through the in-store Gucci app, evidence the brand’s future-forward approach to an impactful shopping experience.
11. The Apartment, Copenhagen
The Apartment in Copenhagen blends interior design, art, and lifestyle in a living space-style showroom where every item, from furniture to artwork, is specially chosen to create an aspirational space. Visitors can experience a real-life environment that combines aesthetics, functionality, and comfort with the contemporary design pieces presented. Work from established and emerging designers offers space to enjoy regular events and exhibitions that allow the business to redefine the boundaries between living and retail spaces.
12. Coach Airways
Coach has opened the first Coach Airways retail concept in a (grounded) Boeing 747 at the Freeport A’Famosa Outlet in Malacca, Malaysia. Complete with boarding passes for entry, the store aims to revive the lavishness of early air travel with the help of Coach’s luxury fashion and leather accessories. The shop offers a distinct and all-encompassing experience for shoppers with a cafe and gallery in addition to retail spaces. Its bright aesthetics and the expressive new Coach Airways Collection are designed for all genders, and aim to offer a more personal and evocative way to engage with the brand. Plus, if you like airplanes, it’s a standalone experience for seeing the possibilities beyond air travel.
13. The Store X Berlin
The Store X in Berlin offers a fusion of fashion, art, design, and gastronomy. Located within Soho House Berlin, it offers a dynamic and immersive experience with a curated selection of fashion-forward brands, limited-edition collaborations, and exclusive items. The Store X hosts exhibitions, talks, and performances and contains numerous culinary experiences in its restaurant, bar, and café. Its blend of fashion, art, and hospitality elevates it to a realm of its own in the concept store landscape.